It’s that time of the year, everyone! It’s the stretch where every site that celebrates any medium of entertainment begins to look back on the year that was, and it’s going to be no different here on SKTCHD. Much of December will be dedicated to not just 2019 but this entire decade, celebrating the comics, creators and moments that stood out the most to me.
As per usual, I’ll be doing things slightly differently than everyone else, and the difference starts at the beginning of my efforts: I won’t be talking about anything in the first week! Instead, I reached out to a bunch of comic creators for perspectives on the year that was and what they’re excited about (or have coming up) in 2020, and this week will largely be focused on that. For the rest of the week, I’ll be running their answers to one of a quartet of questions as separate pieces. And it all begins with the comics themselves, as I asked each creator I reached out to the following question:
What comics (can be monthlies, graphic novels, mini comics, zines, whatever) did you enjoy the most this year?
That’s it! It’s a fantastic list from some incredible creators, and you better believe my to-read list somehow became even longer after going over their answers. We’ll be going in alphabetical order (based off last name), and each day until Friday we’ll be back with a different question. Also, these are purely creator-driven, so I’m leaving these ones open to non-subscribers. On to the answers!
John Allison (Giant Days, Steeple)
Nick Cagnetti’s Pink Lemonade, Lissa Treiman’s Minotaar, Ed Piskor’s X-Men: Grand Design, Tom Scioli’s Go-Bots, Craig Thompson’s Ginseng series, Warwick Johnson Cadwell’s Our Encounters With Evil… I thought Tini Howard and Kei Zama’s Death’s Head series was great. Shortbox put out some amazing books. Loads of stuff!
Dave Baker (Night Hunters, Fuck Off Squad)
In a year filled with amazing standout works I find myself thinking most about Doc Frankenstein by The Wachowskis and Steve Skroce. The book started forever ago, like 2004 and then remained unfinished for the better part of a decade. However, a collected hardcover was just released and I’m so happy to have the finished story sitting on my shelf. I’ve been a huge fan of Skroce’s work ever since Ecto Kid, and seeing him finally complete his magnum opus about a catholic church battling Frankenstein Monster just makes me so happy. If you’re ever looking for comic that’s just good clean anti-religious, pro monster-dude fun, this is the book for you.
Terry Dodson (the upcoming X-Men/Fantastic Four, Adventureman)
Magic Order, Les Indes Fourbes, Murder Falcon, Becky Cloonan’s Inktober story, Isola – I will admit I probably bought the least amount of comics this year as my work load has been so heavy, I really didn’t get to the comic shop much!
Tadd Galusha (Cretaceous)
Murder Falcon and the Guerillas Omnibus. They reminded me at my core as to why I got into this business of making comics.
Nicole Goux (Shadow of the Batgirl, Fuck Off Squad)
My favorite book to come out this year was probably The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis. I’ve been a big fan of hers for years and she really pulled out all the stops on this book. The Hard Tomorrow is a searing exploration of what it means to have hope when you live in a world that has no future. Davis’ single line b&w artwork is so emotive and really shows what many of us have known for a long time, that comics don’t have to be in color to be beautiful. Davis makes me excited to create the type of immensely personal work that speaks to an audience by being at once very specific and universal at the same time.
Faith Erin Hicks (Pumpkinheads, The Nameless City trilogy)
2019 was a bit of a strange year for me. I tried to seek out comics that were very different from my own work, and I ignored a lot of the big books that came out. I think I just needed a bit of a break; 2019 was the first year since 2007 that I didn’t draw a brand new graphic novel, and instead focused on recharging my artistic batteries. I read a lot of manga this year. Hands down my favourite series was Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa. She’s a genius, and made a sweet story about struggling teens at agricultural college in Japan one of the best comics I’ve read since … well, Fullmetal Alchemist, which was also written and drawn by her.
I also really enjoyed the occasionally heartwrenching fantasy manga To Your Eternity by Yoshitoki Oima (she also wrote/drew A Silent Voice). On the North American side of comics, Mariko Tamaki write two great graphic novels, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (drawn by superstar Rosemary Valero-O’Connell) and the best Harley Quinn comic you’ll ever read, Breaking Glass (drawn by Steve Pugh, who draws the most appealing and cosplay-able Harley ever). I also really loved Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis, which was a comic so different from any middle grade/YA graphic novel out there it deserves to be on a shelf all its own.
Liana Kangas (She Said Destroy)
Among some of my favorites, I really enjoyed seeing Gavin Smith and James Maddox’s new series Dead Legends come out in floppy! Congrats guys! I also enjoyed seeing Vita Ayala write Shuri and Miles, as well as Sweeney Boo’s preview for her OGN Eat and Love Yourself.
Steve Lieber (Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, The Fix)
I loved Dylan Meconis’ Queen of the Sea – it’s a charming young adult graphic novel, kind of loosely based on the exile of Elizabeth the first. It’s 400 pages long and I absolutely blasted through it. Jeff Parker and Bob Q gave us the WW2 James Bond stories I’ve wanted for years. It was great seeing more Lazarus from Rucka, Larka & Arcas. And Eleanor Davis’s The Hard Tomorrow was gorgeous and sweet and painful.
Stephen Mooney (Web of Black Widow, Half Past Danger)
I read a good bit of Black Widow material to prep myself for working on our series, of which I enjoyed the Chris Samnee/Mark Waid run the most. But the series that really stood out for me this year was House of X. I was actually pretty blown away by it. I was a massive X-Men kid and seeing the Merry Mutants return to their spot on the top of the pile at Marvel after what seemed like an age was pretty cathartic, in a weird way. It definitely gave me a real shot of adrenaline and re-sparked my love for that franchise. Like an awful lot of other people, I’d imagine.
Phillip Sevy (Triage, Tomb Raider)
I feel like I have half of 2019 still on my “To read” pile (one of the by-products of doing a book that you’re writing, penciling, inking, and coloring – no time!), but from what I’ve read (and it’s still a lot) some of my highlights are:
- Paper Girls: one of my all-time favorite BKV series. It started slow but grew into one of the richest, most emotional, human, and fun comics I’ve ever read. Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson made visual gold with this series. I’ve read it and reread it multiple times and they just nailed the ending. The best ending to a BKV series yet. I absolutely cherish this book.
- House of X/Powers of X: I’m a die-hard X-Men fan since nearly birth. I’ve read many many X-Men comics – the good and the bad – but I was quite skeptical of this miniseries. Until I read the first issue. And it blew my mind. Taking the energy and inventiveness of Grant Morrison’s run with a Claremont respect and love of continuity, Hickman with Larraz, Silva, and Gracia created the best mainstream book of the decade. At least. It was beautiful and inspiring and maddening and it set the stage in a way few comics have ever done. I don’t know if any of the new series will be able to live up to House/Powers – but I’m more energized about X-Men comics than I’ve ever been.
- Gideon Falls: I feel like this is the sleeper hit of the last few years. Man this book is fantastic! Lemire, Sorrentino, and Stewart continue to build the best and creepiest mythology in comics. Volume 3 this year was a sheer endorphins rush to my writer brain – doing everything I love in storytelling. It’s effortlessly genius.
- Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass: For a book that I should have just known would be incredible – I was still blown away when reading this. I’m not a huge Harley fan. But Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh just hooked me from the start. The art is unfairly gorgeous, the writing is incredibly smart, earnest, and genuine. I savored every page of this OGN. If DC will set the bar for quality OGNs with this, then I’ll buy every single one.
- Cosmoknights: Speaking of amazing OGNs – Hannah Templer (who did covers for my Tomb Raider: Inferno run as well as the first issue variant for Triage) decided she wasn’t content with be an amazing artist (interiors and covers) – she decided to be the best damn cartoonist of the year. Cosmoknights was exciting, beautiful, fun, and fast. I started to read a few pages that she posted online and quickly devoured all 90 pages she had posted up to that point. Then I preordered the graphic novel so I could read the entire volume in my hands in one sitting. Volume 2 can’t get here fast enough.
- Die: Yes, Wic/Div is brilliant and ended this year. But I wanted to save the final arc to read in one sitting. I have them all, but haven’t had the chance to read them yet. But I did voraciously devour Die from issue one. Going into it, I had never played and RPG, but I fell madly in love with this book from page one. Stephanie Hans paints dreamy, liquid pages that feel like it’s ripped from the D&D players handbook (don’t worry – I’m now playing hardcore). The possibilities, twists, depth, and scale of Die are giant and endless. I love this book.
- Self/Made: Speaking of giant scale stories – Self/Made came out of nowhere and knocked me on my ass. The book wasn’t on my radar until you interviewed writer Mat Groom last year and I decided to pick it up. I’m glad I did. Each issue was its own story – changing settings, genres, styles – to create the expansive tapestry of bold storytelling. I want more and I want more from Mat NOW.
- Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt: another series that I think all people, everywhere, should be talking about and discussing for years. Gillen takes the tropes of Watchmen through the lenses of all major milestone writers since Alan Moore (Gillen, himself, included) in this psychedelic, insane, mind-blowing series that I am still trying to wrap my head around. It’s TOP notch. And Caspar Wijngaard’s art is just incredible. It’s one of the best books of the decade.
Declan Shalvey (Injection, Bog Bodies)
I always hate this question because I know once I answer it, I’ll think of their books that I meant to include. However, I’ve been reading and loving Criminal, Daredevil, Outer Darkness, Dead Eyes, Lois Lane, White Trees, Little Bird and of course, House of X/Powers of X. Picking up interesting one-offs like November Girl, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies and The Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against The Devils In Suits are a refreshing change from the monthly regulars.
Come back tomorrow for more perspective on the year that was from these same creators (and maybe more!). And if you enjoy this content, consider subscribing to SKTCHD for all of this and more.